Taking a peek at the technology behind past Opening Ceremonies & big ticket productions like them

by Modis on February 4, 2014

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Taking a peek at the technology behind past Opening Ceremonies

Big crowds. Thunderous music. Gigantic set pieces. Thousands of performers simultaneously working in tandem. Indeed, orchestrating a massive large-scale production like an opening ceremony is a tremendous feat, and that’s just the kickoff! Beneath the grand spectacle, there’s a lot of hard work and some intriguing technology used to pull off an event of this size and magnitude. Let’s take a closer look at some of the cooler technology of opening ceremonies from years past and what it takes to make these events both memorable and successful.

Lights, camera, weather control?!

No opening ceremony would be complete without a little audience participation. For the London 2012 Olympic Games opening, the audience itself was brought into the fold as an interactive part of the event which wowed the world!

Each of the 70,000+ seats in the venue were outfitted with a large panel that formed an impressive display with 637,191 pixels. It wrapped around the entire stadium, allowing words and visual effects to be shown across the audience.

Another particularly neat bit of high-tech of visual wizardry helped The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games kick off with a bang. During a portion of one of the sequences being broadcast on television, rather than actual fireworks, attendees were treated to the illusion of fireworks exploding in the shape of footprints.

This trick was pulled off to alleviate safety concerns over aerial filming of a more elaborate fireworks display. While real fireworks were set off during the event, this particular sequence was done almost entirely using CGI animation. A group of Chinese VFX specialists prepared for more than a year to get this moment just right.

In an even quirkier twist, Chinese officials from the Beijing Weather Modification Office — yes, there is such a thing — fired volleys of special rockets containing trace amounts of silver iodine at cloud formations approaching the city during the Olympics to keep the weather pleasant for the event. This cloud-busting tech penetrated the storm clouds, triggering rain before it could reach the ceremony.

Olympic Games opportunities for techies

Beyond the many intriguing technologies at play to pull off the big event, numerous tech-related job openings always accompany the Olympic Games. Skilled workers, engineers, and IT professionals are hired to help bolster forces and prepare for the mighty task of executing a successful event.

From designers, animators, and production teams to IT pros for WIFI-expansion, cyber security, and laying out the electronic infrastructure, there’s a great need for both on-side and telecommuting staff in a wide range of areas.

Just look at the London 2012 Olympic Games, for example, which reportedly spurred the creation of over 5,000 new IT positions and pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into the industry. Where there’s a need, there’s opportunity.

It takes a lot of people to create an event of such grand scale, especially given the sheer volume of the physical and technological infrastructure involved.

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